Alive to the political climate of the time, the Celtic Board were keen to ensure Davitt’s services to open the new ground at Janefield Street, adjacent to the Springfield Road site of the first Celtic Park.

The deal was struck and Davitt came to Glasgow, via Belfast, to sink a sod of Donegal turf into the newly laid pitch, which had been built and laid by the immigrant Irish of the locality, carving out a monument to the huddled thousands forced to flee hunger and destitution in Ireland.

After taking in Celtic’s league match against Clyde, Davitt later received a gold ‘Glasgow Medal’ at a special banquet from Board member John Glass and it was reported that Davitt said he would be a frequent visitor to watch Celtic and that he would wear this badge with pride!

Pride, though, would not be the lasting emotion and rage descended the next day as it dawned that larceny had taken place during the night – the sod that Davitt delicately laid had been stolen!

A poem from the time damned the perpetrator, thus; 

“The curse of Cromwell blast the hand that stole the sod that Michael cut; 
May all his praties (potatoes) turn to sand – “! 

Today, Club patrons often lecture fans that there is no place for politics in football, but the founding fathers of Celtic would reject this notion – marked most earnestly in their courtship with Davitt.

And a wonderful legacy it is, as another Celtic poem relays the struggles linked to sport, emigration and the wish to take root in new places to escape the travails of the past:

“On alien soil like yourself I am here;
I’ll take root and flourish, of that never fear;
And though I’ll be crossed sore and oft by the foes,
You’ll find me as hardy as Thistle or Rose.
If a model is needed on your own pitch you’ll have it.
Let your play honour me and my friend Michael Davitt!”


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